Bel Air town officials expect to propose an increase in residential and commercial sewer rates in order to reflect changes in the bulk rate Harford County charges the town to treat its sewage.
Town Administrator Chris Schlehr told the town commissioners during a work session Tuesday evening that the amount of the increase has not been determined yet because county public works officials must make corrections to "inaccuracies" that Bel Air officials discovered as they were reviewing the county's bulk rate calculations about a month ago.
The town administrator said he had hoped to introduce the new town sewer rate at the next town meeting, Dec. 16, but he will not introduce it until the corrected county bulk rate comes back.
"We haven't [received] the final new bulk rate yet from them but there'll still be an increase for our users, Schlehr said. We just don't know what it is yet."
He said the bulk rate calculations, which are based on county expenses, must conform to a 1988 sewer agreement between the town and the county.
Schlehr and town department heads review the calculations each year.
"We go through every line item in the audit reports that we get to make sure that it's in accordance with what the agreement provides for," he said.
Bel Air sewer customers pay the same current rate of $5.27 per 1,000 gallons of water usage, according to the town website.
Finance Director Lisa Moody said Wednesday that residential customers are typically billed on a quarterly basis and businesses billed monthly.
The customers pay a base charge in addition to the sewer rate — the base charge varies based on the size of the water meter.
The quarterly base charge starts at $7.35 for a five-eighths-inch water meter, typically a home, and is as high as 1,377.83 for a 6-inch water meter for the largest commercial customers.
Schlehr, who is retiring at the end of the month after 21 years with the Bel Air town government, said the calculations must be reviewed "line by line."
"I've been doing it for 21 years and you get to know what should be there and what shouldn't be," he remarked.
Schlehr said he hopes to hear back from county officials either this week or early next week about what the final bulk rate will be.
"We have to figure out how that will translate into an increase to our customers," he said.
The Dec. 16 meeting of the Bel Air town commissioners will be the last for Schlehr, whose final will be Dec. 31.
Schlehr, who is also retired from the Navy and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, has worked for the Town of Bel Air since 1992.
The agenda for the town meeting, which was discussed by Schlehr and the town commissioners during a the work session, includes "Proclamations and Acknowledgments" for him.
A reception will be held after the meeting, according to a copy of the town calendar of events, also presented Tuesday.